Coconut builds new offering on the ‘banking commons’

Jessica Ellerm is a thought leader specializing in Small Business and the Gig Economy and is the CEO and Co-Founder of Zuper, a neowealth disruptor in Australia.

SME current-account and bookkeeping tool Coconut recently announced that along with the company’s baked in current account, provided by Prepay Solutions, customers can now connect up their existing business current account.

It marks an interesting pivot for the business, away from a what would have been expected of a quasi-neobanking player, that is to double down on building a large footprint of its own current account users.

Instead, it’s focusing on the problem at hand – helping small business owners invoice and manage their bookkeeping more effectively. Something banks and larger accounting platforms have failed to do on their own, at the micro-SME level.

Coconut’s move is just one example of new business models emerging as banking data becomes openly available to any software application. Defining exactly what new businesses like Coconut are is hard – they aren’t a bank, but they do bank like things. They’re also not an accounting provider, but they do accounting like things.

So just what are they? More to the point, does it even really matter?

Not really. So long as people are buying.

Coconut have 16,000 freelancer and small business owners using its co-joined product offering today. But what could they possibly bring on board by uncoupling the best parts and joining them to the commodity part, the bank account?

Well, that number could run into the millions. And that’s no doubt the SaaS market Coconut wants, leveraging the infrastructure and investment of the banks and their responsibility to bear the costs of keeping current accounts alive.

The ‘banking commons’ that many startups like Coconut are drawing on, represents a very real new threat for the banking sector.

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